Emerging Leaders Networks: Leveraging Impact for the Future

Posted by Stephanie Hanson On April - 2 - 2012
Stephanie Hanson

Stephanie Hanson

Coming up with the theme for a blog salon is always a challenge.

For the past few years that I’ve been working with our Emerging Leaders Council committee to develop our blog salons, we usually have a kernel of an idea for what to focus on. It’s ideal when the initial inspiration comes from the council, because then it’s truly coming from the field. After all, the point of our blog is to facilitate online discussion about big picture issues in the arts that we feel need to be addressed.

When thinking about this year’s salon, the council knew they wanted to feature the Local Emerging Leaders Networks around the country. Great. Love it. Easy. Done.

But what should we have them talk about?

We already talked about emerging ideas in the field last year. What’s next?

We began to think about HOW those emerging ideas get implemented. In many cases, in order for a new idea to thrive, we as individuals, organizations, the community, and the field as a whole may need to change at a very fundamental level.

Perhaps we need to change our definition of success; how our organizations are structured; how we interact with our communities; and how we make art.

Then, we read Diane Ragsdale’s February 14 blog post; If Our Goal is Simply to Preserve Our Current Reality, Why Pursue It?, where she writes about innovation and arts sector reform.  Diane’s thesis can be summed up in these sentences: Read the rest of this entry »

School Board Advocacy Resource Roundup

Posted by Joshua Miller On March - 19 - 2012
Joshua Miller

Joshua Miller

For the arts lovers who want become arts fighters, many of you are probably saying, “Let’s fight to keep arts in our public schools! Umm…wait…how do we actually do that?”

Indeed, wanting to fight for a cause can be an awesome feeling. However, knowing where to get started can be daunting.

The best way to join the battle to keep arts education in schools is by getting involved with your local school board. Believe it or not, school boards are one of the purist forms of democracy we have in America.

Citizens of a community or district have direct access to school board members. That’s pretty major when you consider the subjects at hand:

1. Our children, our greatest resource  

2. Education, the great equalizer in this country

In general, the responsibilities of a local school board include maintaining the local school system structure; developing curriculum; meeting both state and federal standards for public schools; approving the school district’s budget; establishing educational objectives; being involved in the administration of the school district for accountability purposes; and serving as an open forum for the citizens’ input regarding education, reflecting the values and culture of their community.

Now that you know a little about how local school boards operate, how do you get involved? Read the rest of this entry »

Theresa Cameron

Being an executive director or board member for a local arts organization is tough work.

For the board leader it is often difficult for them to know enough about the organization’s work to have informed opinions, yet feel comfortable offering opinions.

Executive directors often deal with board members who don’t know enough about the organization’s work to have informed opinions yet feel free to offer opinions anyway.

In the eyes of many arts administrators, board members many not know much about day-to-day operations or often “get in the way” of the work the organization is trying to accomplish.

Executive directors often pay lip service to the importance of the board, but in practice they do everything they can to keep the board marginalized and out of the way.

This relationship is often described as a partnership in a carefully-choreographed dance, a marriage, and like that of an orchestra and conductor.

Let’s face it-this relationship is complicated. That’s why I wanted to pass on a very good set of guidelines written by my friend Rick Moyers of the Meyer Foundation. I think these are terrific and applicable for our local arts organizations… Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond the Headlines: LA’s Arts Advocacy Success

Posted by Danielle Brazell On February - 27 - 2012

Advocates rallied outside of the LAUSD board meeting.

Many of you have seen the headlines about the proposed total elimination of the elementary arts program in our country’s second largest school district—Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD). And many of you probably saw the star-studded headlines about the postponement of that decision during the February 14 school board meeting.

Well, here is the rest of that story that you might not know…

At the meeting, all seven board members and Superintendent John Deasy expressed their commitment to LAUSD’s nationally recognized arts education program. The postponement allows advocates and district leaders to develop alternative strategies in the face of the district’s $550 million budget shortfall.

Arts for LA, the regional arts and arts education advocacy group for Los Angeles County, is leading the campaign to oppose the elimination, and has mobilized over 2,400 stakeholders to voice support for arts education to the LAUSD School Board.

Arts education was not alone on the chopping block. Several other essential programs, including adult and early childhood education, were also slated for elimination under one of three potential budget scenarios for 2012/2013. Read the rest of this entry »

Poetry and Promise: Education Reform & the Arts

Posted by Ken Busby On February - 17 - 2012

I judged a poetry slam this weekend—Louder Than A Bomb–Tulsa!

It’s amazing to hear young people sharing about their lives and ideas through poetry. This was the second year for the event. The excitement and enthusiasm expressed by these students was palpable:

Listening to their poetry really made me start thinking anew about just how important the arts are to shaping young minds—helping build self-confidence, fostering creativity, and excelling in school. We as artists, art professionals, and art educators are very often a major factor in a student’s success.

Ten states, including Oklahoma, recently received a reprieve from complying with certain aspects of No Child Left Behind. It seems like we keep lowering our standards rather than lifting up our youth to meet and exceed the challenges put before them.

How are we going to have a capable workforce replete with skills for the 21st century if we keep lowering our requirements for graduation? Companies are spending millions of dollars every year providing remedial training. Universities are spending millions of dollars every year on remedial classes.

We cannot solve our current economic woes by burying our heads in the sand and hoping by some miracle that our youth will figure it out and be successful when we haven’t provided the proper foundation or the means to foster success. Read the rest of this entry »

Rewarding Sustained Attention (from Arts Watch)

Posted by Barbara Schaffer Bacon On December - 14 - 2011

Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical by Marcia Muelder Eaton

“Great art rewards sustained attention.” This simple theory comes from philosopher Marcia Muelder Eaton, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota.

In my personal experience, it is true. Eaton has been considering art and writing about aesthetics for a few decades. Her early publications get to the heart of this definition but a later book, Merit, Aesthetic and Ethical (Oxford Press 2001) offers an inclusive concept of art, aesthetics, and value that is very relevant to the themes of Fusing Arts Culture and Social Change.

In that book, Eaton suggests that “formalists in the world of aesthetics ignore the roles that artworks play in the life of community and conversely, ignore the ways in which communities determine the very nature of what counts as artistic or aesthetic experiences that exist within them.” I recommend her writings in general and this book specifically.

I share Eaton’s work here because my enthusiasm for the conversation raised by Fusing Arts Culture and Social Change is not to call out the major institutions and question whether they deserve support, but rather to encourage sustained attention for small, mid-size, and community-based arts groups that are rooted in communities, neighborhoods, ethnic, and tribal traditions. Read the rest of this entry »

Stewardship: Culture Wars 2.0 and Placemaking

Posted by Roberto Bedoya On December - 12 - 2011

Roberto Bedoya

I ended my previous blog post with a reference to the San Francisco Arts Commission Cultural Equity Grants (CEG) program that I want to expand upon in the context of the democratic ideals of inclusion and stewardship.

CEG is a national model of excellence that shows the cultural sector, how through grantmaking one can address the systemic roots of inequity in society. CEG’s 19 years of service illustrates how the stewardship ethos of taking care is made real through programming strategies that serves our culturally diverse society.

This cheerleader moment for CEG is tied to the backlash being felt against the equity conversation that is heating up in our sector and the nation. CEG is a reminder of what’s possible — that citizens can manifested their passion for equity in a cultural policy designed to serve all.

Let’s call this backlash an example of “Culture Wars 2.0.” The first Culture War of the 90s was an attack on art and artistic free speech. Cultural War 2.0 attacks are against our civil and cultural rights — the right to be taught the works of Latino playwrights in high schools; a women’s right to control her body; the right of gays and lesbians to marry their loved one; the right to be free from racial profiling that is happening within intensity to America’s Muslim and Latino communities; the right of collective bargaining…Attacks by whom? — The 1%, the “me and my friends” of a privatized a “we” of self-interests, the intolerants? Read the rest of this entry »

Creating a Suburban Cultural Hub in the Metropolitan Kansas City Region

Posted by Sarah VanLanduyt On December - 6 - 2011
Sarah VanLanduyt

Sarah VanLanduyt

How does a county arts council better serve the arts sector segment of its constituency? This is a question that began a two year conversation for the Arts Council of Johnson County (ACJC) and ended with this answer: a new website.

At first glance it’s a fairly simplistic solution; however for a small arts agency working within the greater Kansas City Metropolitan Area it’s a way to reach more constituents, connect them to regional resources and build a foundation for future ACJC initiatives and partnerships.

First a little background on the Arts Council of Johnson County.

ACJC is predominantly an advocacy organization who works with community leaders to promote the cultural and economic development of the county through the arts. Some of our previous work has included developing the Arts Business Plan and serving as lead advocate for Johnson County’s One Percent for Public Art Program. Through these projects and other initiatives ACJC has developed a good working relationship with the county government but in doing so we allowed our relationship with the arts community to weaken.

In 2010, ACJC held a series of forums for arts educators, organizations, and artists, to gain a better understanding of how to support their work in the community. It also gave us a chance to learn about their concerns and challenges within the current economic and political climate. Read the rest of this entry »

From Advertising to Advocacy: A Multicultural Approach

Posted by Alyx Kellington On December - 2 - 2011
Alyx Kellington

Alyx Kellington

How many languages are spoken in your local school district?

Chances are most of us will be surprised at the number and varieties of languages the students speak and probably do not know how to reach out to that community.

Currently, the School District of Palm Beach County, Florida, is the 11th largest in the continental U.S. with 187 schools, serving over 174,000 (K-12) students who speak 141 languages/dialects. So how can you advertise your event to a native Kanjoval speaker?

Many school districts have a multicultural department and that in turn, may offer a Community Language Facilitator (CLF). In Palm Beach County, each school provides one CLF for every 15 students who speak a common language.

If your organization or program can go the extra mile and create a reference, lesson plan, or curriculum-based activity for the multicultural audience, you may find cultural and translation assistance available from the school district.  Read the rest of this entry »

Every Museum Needs a Community Organizer

Posted by Damon Rich On November - 7 - 2011

Damon Rich

With Red Lines Housing Crisis Learning Center (2009), I tried to transform several galleries of the Queens Museum of Art into a place to explore how our society pays for housing, how the system has broken down, and the arguments over fixing it.

Developed between 2006 and 2008 at the MIT Center for Advanced Visual Studies, the work included video conversations with mortgage investors, homebuying counselors, bankers, financial justice advocates, and government regulators; a model of the city’s foreclosure geography using the Museum’s famous Panorama of the City of Newark; the inhabitable head of a real estate appraiser; a sinister forty-foot interest rate graph; bus-stop-style posters on the history of mortgage institutions; and puppet shows about mortgage scams and how to avoid them.

Even with this physical setting, the life of the exhibition as a learning center — not just a conceptual model for one-depended upon connections beyond the gallery, allowing the museum to play a distinct role as part of a larger democratic discussion, providing an aesthetic and abstracted supplement to the concrete but disassociated facts of the news and the disciplined and goal-oriented work of community advocacy.

While artists like Fred Wilson, Andrea Fraser, Martha Rosler, Adrian Piper, and Hans Haacke have focused art audiences on the limitations of the institutions that show their work (including class and race biases and their role in the self-legitimation of the powerful), few institutions have built upon these critical insights to develop the organizational capacities to overcome them. Which organizational capacities? Read the rest of this entry »

Sara Bateman

On October 21, the Emerging Leaders in the Arts Network (ELAN) hosted our third annual Creative Conversation. Over the past three years, this event has enabled our Emerging Leaders chapter to make connections within our local Oregon community and address topics that provoke conversation around the state of the arts in this region.

As the only current university-based chapter of the Emerging Leaders Network, the Creative Conversations program has created a vital link between university students and the community at large.

Based out of the University of Oregon in Eugene, finding ways to break down the student/community divide is a high priority for our chapter. We strive to find ways to bridge the gap between students and professionals, and to take the opportunity while we are in graduate school to connect with artists, administrators, and educators so that we can inform our role as the current generation of emerging leaders.

For this year’s event, titled “Make a Scene: Activating Local Arts & Culture Media,” ELAN sought to address how our community can work together to elevate local arts and culture media coverage, providing both print- and web-based opportunities and platforms for participation, dialogue, and critical engagement.

The event started with a panel comprised of local writers, critics, and media managers, including Rebecca Black and Karen Rainsong from Eugene A Go-Go; Jonathan Boys-Hkd, founder and editor-in-chief of Emerging Artist Magazine; Suzi Steffen, independent arts critic and blogger; Dante Zuniga-West, music/visual arts editor at the Eugene Weekly; and Joshua Finch of the zine Exiled in Eugene. Read the rest of this entry »

The Intrinsic Benefits of Arts Education

Posted by Kristen Engebretsen On October - 18 - 2011

Kristen Engebretsen

I recently authored a post titled The Top 10 Ways to Support Arts Education, but I’m finding that I get more requests from people asking for reasons why arts education should be supported, not how.

So as a companion piece to the how of supporting arts education, here I offer reasons why arts education should be supported.

Usually, when making the case for arts education, I direct people to resources like the recent Reinvesting in Arts Education report by the President’s Committee for the Arts and the Humanities. It compiles all of the classic arguments in favor of arts education: it boosts student achievement, it increases student engagement, and it helps to close the achievement gap.

My colleague Randy Cohen has also offered reasons to support arts education in his Top 10 Reasons to Support the Arts post. He, too, cites academic achievement, but he also mentions the role of arts education in preparing students with 21st century job skills, like communication and creativity.

However, this post is not about what arts education does in terms of other achievement areas. Rather, it is about what the arts intrinsically do for students. Read the rest of this entry »

Jamie Foxx Invites You to Experience ‘Thunder Soul’

Posted by admin On October - 12 - 2011

Jamie Foxx here, writing you to share the good news about Thunder Soul – a very special film that is close to my heart. This film is a rare gem – more than just a “must-see” it’s a “must-experience” for all ages.

I am so inspired by this movie – the true story of how one person makes a profound difference in the lives of others – that I am asking for your help to make it as successful as it is special. Most people know me as an actor, singer and comedian, but few know that none of that would’ve been possible had it not been for my Granny, Estelle Talley, who gave me the gift of music at a very young age.

It was important to Granny that I received an excellent education–which thankfully always included music. Studying instrumental music gave me discipline, skill, and creative expression. But far beyond that, having mentors, like Granny and great music teachers, believe in me from a young age laid the foundation for my success as an entertainer and, more importantly, as a person. That is the indomitable spirit at the heart of this powerful movie—and why I know you will love it. Read the rest of this entry »

Beyond Letter Writing & Phone Calls: Relationship-Based Arts Education Advocacy

Posted by Victoria Plettner-Saunders On September - 30 - 2011

Victoria Plettner-Saunders

Over the last few years, I’ve blogged here about our arts education advocacy efforts in San Diego with the San Diego Unified School District. I am the co-founding chair of the San Diego Alliance for Arts Education (SDAAE) which officially launched in May 2010 (although our collective grassroots advocacy work began a year earlier).

As chair of the SDAAE I have been very clear about the approach I want to take in leading the advocacy work that we do. While I believe that public comment and letter writing are important components of advocacy, I am also an evangelist for developing a working relationship with those to whom you are directing your efforts.

In this case, it’s our local school board. We have always carried the message to them that we want to be partners in supporting arts education and that we are available as a helpful resource for them. As a result, members have called when they have decisions to make or proposals to craft that they know will affect outcomes in the Visual and Performing Arts (VAPA) Department.

Most recently, the school board asked community members to assist with what they call “Tiger Teams.” These teams are essentially efforts to get new information and an outside perspective about way that various district departments do business. Read the rest of this entry »

Congressional Candidate Gleefully Declares War on Arts

Posted by Tim Mikulski On September - 21 - 2011

Although written unevenly and built into a money-making machine by FOX and it’s production company over the past two years, Glee is at it’s heart a love letter to the power of music, and more general, arts education.

During the recent summer hiatus, it was rumored that cartoon-like villain Sue Sylvester (played wonderfully by Jane Lynch) would be running for Congress throughout the show’s third season. I even read that her platform was going to be anti-arts, and after last night’s season premiere, that rumor was confirmed.

After viewing some early polling numbers, Sue realized that she couldn’t just be for something (immigrant deportation), but needed to be against something in order to gain traction with potential voters. Since she spent the last three years trying to destroy the school’s glee club, it dawned on her that she could be against public funding for the arts/arts education.

As she spouted off about spending money for what we all hold so dear, I couldn’t help but chuckle at the satire, yet of course we all know that it’s a reality — particularly during a time when FEMA and even FAA funding can almost cause gridlock just a few blocks from where I sit here in D.C.

We know that the creators of the show are very much in favor of arts education and it will be interesting to see how they decide to paint Sue’s campaign (or if it even carries on past last night’s episode). I hope the writers continue to approach it with their tongues planted firmly in their cheeks, showing how ridiculous her stance is, while continuing to back up our arguments for arts education (Matthew Morrison’s Will rattled off a few stats at Sue during the episode) each week. Read the rest of this entry »